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Tasmania prepares for snowy evening with flurries expected as low as 100 metres

Friday September 24, 2021 - 13:32 EST
ABC image
Tasmanian mountain tops will experience below-zero temperatures. - ABC

Tasmanians are bracing for wintry weather in spring as an icy blast of air moves through the state on Friday and into Saturday, with a possibility of snow down near sea level.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says showers and cold winds of around 100 kilometres per hour are moving through the state, with snowfall set to arrive in the afternoon and drop to lower altitudes in the evening and into Saturday morning.

The BOM said snowfalls were expected at or below 500 metres in parts of Tasmania on Friday afternoon, dropping to around 100 metres in the evening and overnight.

"It is actually snowing on top of kunanyi/Mount Wellington now," forecaster Anna Forrest said on Friday afternoon.

"We're likely to see some snow settling about the hills ? maybe Mount Nelson, definitely Fern Tree ? from late this afternoon into the early evening.

"As the day continues, it will slowly descend and reach its nadir ? its lowest point ? in the early hours of tomorrow morning, while it's still dark."

The west, central plateau and south-east are the best places to see some snow.

The BOM said Hobart could see "a few centimetres" of snow on the ground, while the central parts of the state could experience up to 20 centimetres.

"The rule of thumb we use is 1 millimetre of rain is equivalent to 1 centimetre of snow, so we've had just under 6mm of rain in the city, so that's probably about 6cm of snow on kunanyi/Mount Wellington," Ms Forrest explained.

The cold snap is being brought by the high-pressure system in the west and a cold front moving through, dragging up cold air from the south which generates gusty winds.

"It's quite unusual to see snowfall down to sea level, even during winter for Tasmania," senior forecaster Simon Louis said.

"It will feel like a return to winter for the day."

Temperatures will drop down to "single digits" in most parts, with mountain tops bracing for below-zero temperatures.

Record-breaking winds damage roofs

On Thursday morning, the winds on kunanyi/Mount Wellington broke records.

"Yesterday we recorded a nice 172kph gust on the top of kunanyi/Mount Wellington at 6:19am," Ms Forrest said.

"That's the strongest gust of wind we've had there since July 10, 10 years ago in 2011, and much stronger than the previous September maximum of 156kph."

Hobart also recorded wind gusts of more than 90kph, some of the strongest ever recorded at this time of year.

Leon Smith, the State Emergency Service's assistant director of operations and resources, said crews yesterday responded to structural damage, partial roof losses and fallen trees.

A road alert has been issued for the Lyell Highway, the Huon Highway and the Highway at Spring Hill.

A bushwalkers' alert and a sheep graziers' warning have also been issued.

Inspector Brian Edmonds from Tasmania Police called for motorists to watch out for black ice and avoid travelling on the roads if possible.

"Drivers need to drive to the conditions and make sure they're driving very slowly," he said.

"Slow down, take your time, consider whether you do need to be on the roads."

The BOM said conditions were expected to ease on Saturday, but Sunday and Monday mornings may still be "frosty".

Last year, Launceston had snow down to sea level, but Mr Louis said this year's event would not be anything like that.

"We expect that the east and the north of the state will be fairly sheltered from the snow coming in from the south-west," Mr Louis said.


© ABC 2021

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